If you and your spouse are heading toward divorce, you are likely thinking of your goals and expectations for custody of the children. After all, the welfare of the children during this difficult and emotional time may be foremost in your mind. You may be thinking that the best you can do for your kids is to get the divorce over with as quickly as possible and work out the details of a parenting plan as situations arise.
Unfortunately, many child advocates warn that this may not be the ideal way to handle the questions of co-parenting. In fact, the better idea is often to include as many details as you can and to prepare for every possible contingency before you end negotiations.
Whether you and your spouse are getting along fine throughout the divorce process or you can barely stand to be in the same room, it is wise to keep your focus on making the future relatively calm and stress-free for the children. Ironing out the details with your ex and your respective attorneys may actually save future confrontations. For example, you can decide the following:
- Which rules will you share for consistency, and which will you allow each other to make individually, such as bedtimes, homework time or chores?
- Will you have two sets of clothing or other items for each household?
- What will your policy be if a child leaves an important or beloved item behind at the other parent’s house?
- Will you call each other to take the children first, before calling a babysitter or grandparent, if you have a scheduling conflict during your parenting time?
- How will you adjust parenting time for special events like weddings, birthdays or funerals?
- How will you share holidays, including day and time of pick-up and drop-off?
- What will you do if a child is sick in bed when it is time to switch houses?
- Will you both have to agree when the children want to sign up for extra-curricular activities, especially those that may overlap parenting times?
- Will you approve of your ex’s new partner meeting the children or babysitting them?
While it may seem that some of these are nitpicking, you may be surprised at how quickly a missed detail can escalate into a vicious fight. Taking the time to resolve these and other issues your North Dakota attorney may suggest may allow you to step into your new co-parenting plan confident that it will work for the long term.